Excellent software, strong cameras, easy to deploy.
Spendy, limited to video surveillance.
We nearly slapped WiLife’s Spy Camera Starter Kit with a Geek Tested: Disapproved label when we checked it out in our May 2007 issue. The camera was poorly disguised in the massive body of a fugly digital clock. But the company’s software was so impressive that we called in its Indoor Camera Starter Kit ($300) and an add-on outdoor camera ($230) for a full review.
Each of WiLife’s cameras uses HomePlug powerline networking, so you need only plug the cameras into wall outlets, hook a USB receiver to your PC, and install the software. We had a two-camera system up and working within 15 minutes.
The interior camera comes with a desktop stand, a wall/ceiling mount, and a suction cup for mounting to a window. The exterior model mounts to a wall or the ceiling. Both cameras are expensive, but each is outfitted with an onboard 400MHz DSP that compresses and encodes video to WMV9 format before it’s ever sent to your PC.
WiLife’s software can manage up to six cameras simultaneously with motion-activated video recording, and it can send text or video-clip alerts to your smartphone or email address whenever it detects unexpected activity. You can also establish up to 16 tracking zones for each camera, which enables them to ignore cars traveling on the street, for instance, but activate when someone approaches your door. WiLife also provides a free online account, so you can monitor your cameras from any web-enabled device.
WiLife is a fabulous video-surveillance system—and we dig the fact that there are no monthly fees—but its scope is limited: We’d like to see the company expand this product into a more complete home-control system.